It’s fall, and the blooms of summer have faded. So
how come you’re still sneezing? Fall allergy triggers are different, but they
can cause just as many symptoms as you have in spring and summer.
What Causes Fall Allergies?
Ragweed is the biggest allergy trigger in the fall.
Though the weed usually starts releasing pollen with cool nights and warm days
in August, it can last into September and October. About three-quarters of
people who are allergic to spring plants are also allergic to ragweed.
Ragweed pollen loves to get around. Even if it
doesn't grow where you live, it can still travel for hundreds of miles on the
wind. For some people who are allergic to ragweed, foods like bananas, melon,
zucchini, and certain other fruits and vegetables can also cause symptoms.
Mold is another fall trigger. You may think of mold
growing in your basement or bathroom – damp areas in the house – but mold
spores also love wet spots outside. Piles of damp leaves are ideal breeding
grounds for mold.
Don’t forget dust mites. While they are common
during the humid summer months, they can get stirred into the air the first
time you turn on your heat in the fall. Dust mites can trigger sneezes,
wheezes, and runny noses.
Going back to school can also trigger allergies in
kids because mold and dust mites are common in schools.
What Are the Symptoms?
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Dark circles under the eyes
How Are Fall Allergies Diagnosed?
Your doctor or allergist can help find out exactly
what’s causing your watery, itchy eyes and runny nose. He'll talk to you about
your medical history and symptoms, and may recommend a skin test.
With a skin test, the doctor places a tiny amount
of the allergen on your skin -- usually on your back or forearm -- and then
pricks or scratches the skin underneath. If you're allergic to it, you’ll get a
small, raised bump that itches like a mosquito bite.
Sometimes a blood test may be used to diagnose allergies.
How Can I Treat My Allergies?
There are many medications you can use:
- Steroid nasal sprays – reduce inflammation in your
- Antihistamines – help stop sneezing, sniffling, and
- Decongestants – help relieve stuffiness and dry up
the mucus in of your nose
- Antihistamine eye drops
- Immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots or oral
tablets or drops
You can buy some allergy medications without a
prescription, but it's a good idea to talk to your doctor to make sure you
choose the right one. Decongestant nasal sprays, for example, should only be
used for three days. If you use them longer, you may actually get more
congested. And if you have high blood pressure, some allergy drugs may not be
right for you.
Tips to Manage Symptoms
Stay indoors with the doors and windows closed when
pollen is at its peak (usually in the late morning or midday). Check pollen
counts in your area.
Before you turn on your heat for the first time,
clean your heating vents and change the filter. Bits of mold and other
allergens can get trapped in the vents over the summer and will fill the air as
soon as you start the furnace.
Use a HEPA filter in your heating system to remove
pollen, mold, and other particles from the air.
Use a dehumidifier if you need to, to keep your air
at between 35% and 50% humidity.
Wear a mask when you rake leaves so you don't
breathe in mold spores.
Read more: Webmd.com